Over 20 FREE Library Card Benefits & Surprising Things You Can Borrow
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Check out these free library card benefits you may not know were available with your membership.
Why buy when you can borrow?
If you haven’t visited your local library lately, you may be in for a pleasant surprise! Libraries across the country offer more than just books. Many have added household items, toys, games, and more – all available for checkout, and often referred to as the “Library of Things”.
This is a great way to try before you buy, or to save money by simply borrowing! Who knew there were this many library card benefits and perks?!
Not sure where to start? Here’s how to get a library card:
For most teens and adults, many libraries allow you to apply either online or in person. Children under 13 (age varies) are usually required to go in person and must have to have a parent or guardian’s permission.
Are library cards free?
Yes! Any resident of each state is eligible to obtain an entirely free library card, meaning you also get free access to all the amenities listed below. Note that fees for things like late book returns or printing may apply. Since every location varies, check your local library for their official rules.
Please note that items will vary from library to library, so be sure to check your local branch website or stop by to find out which items are available in your area.
Check out these free library card benefits:
Does your kiddo have an idea for a design and want to bring it to life? Select libraries are now offering 3D & 5D printing services. Prices typically start around 15¢ per gram of filament used in the printing process.
Does your kiddo love ABC Mouse but your subscription is expired? Ask your library if they have an ABC Mouse account. The service typically must be used while in the library and on their computer. It’s a great way to keep your kiddo occupied while you’re relaxing with your favorite book at the library.
Image Credit: Phoenix Public Library
If you’re in the Phoenix area, you can use an Active Workstation while you’re at the library! These workstations include a treadmill with a desk and computer that library visitors can use to surf the internet while staying active. How cool is that?
Image Credit: New York Public Library
American Girl Dolls
Yes, it’s true! Some libraries are offering American Girl Dolls as a part of their library lending programs. Dolls are typically available to be checked out for a week at a time. This is a great way for your kiddo to play with an American Girl Doll without spending a penny!
Need a fun game to play at your next get-together? Consider borrowing a game from your local library and save your cash for more appetizers. Grab one for a rainy day when the kiddos are complaining about being bored!
Image Credit: Arrowhead Library System
Books by Mail
Not able to get to the library due to permanent or long-term illness, or over the age of 65? Many libraries are now offering a Books by Mail program where you can have select titles shipped to you to borrow at no charge. This is a great resource for senior citizens!
Image Credit: Akron Public Library
Want to bake a cake for a special occasion but don’t have the right pan? Some libraries have begun offering a wide variety of cake pans that you can check out. My librarian told me that the train cake pan is their most popular cake pan, especially around the holidays! Who knew?
Need help with your resume? Time to get in shape? Look no further than your local public library for free or low-cost classes on everything from Fitness, Crafts, Square Dancing, Painting, Foreign Language, Resume Preparation, and so much more. ILoveLibraries.com also mentions that many libraries offer resources to learn new skills for students, hobbyists, small business owners, and more!
Computers & Tablets
Don’t have a personal computer at home? Head to the library and borrow theirs! Some libraries even have laptops and tablets that you can check out, which is great for taking advantage of their free catalog of eBooks.
Copiers, Printers, & Scanners
Need to print out something and your printer is on the fritz? Never fear, the library has you covered! Most libraries have copiers, printers, scanners, and fax machines that you can use. Prices will vary per area but are typically pretty reasonable compared to big box stores like Office Depot, UPS Store, etc. My library charges 15¢ for black and white copies/prints, $1 for color copies/prints, $1 per fax, and 25¢ per item scanned. Pretty sweet pricing if you ask me!
e-Books & Audio Books
Your library card gives you access to e-Books & Audio Books available from various online services such as OverDrive, ProQuest, eReadKids, and many more. Why pay for expensive monthly services when you can get them for free?
Image Credit: Fon du lac Public Library
Energy Efficiency Meter Kits
Borrow an easy-to-use meter that calculates electric usage and the cost of household appliances to help you reduce your energy bill. Some libraries may require you to be at least 18 years old to rent tools like this.
Magazines & Newspapers
Miss reading your favorite magazines? Many libraries offer digital versions of magazines through Ebsco.com, which are totally free with your library membership! Or as mentioned by My Modern Met, you can read the hard copy versions while you’re at the library.
Tons of libraries even offer an extensive old newspaper database, which is filled with tons of useful resources!
Image Credit: Shaler Library
Want to find hidden treasure at the beach? Lose an earring in the yard? Your local library may be able to help by loaning you a metal detector.
Microscopes, Binoculars, & Telescopes
Have a Science buff at home? Some libraries have microscopes, binoculars, and telescopes that can be checked out – perfect for helping with school science class projects!
Most libraries have a collection of CDs that you can borrow, but did you know that you can also borrow digital music, too? Many libraries are now offering free digital music downloads via services like Freegal, Hoopla, and more!
Image Credit: Georgia Public Libraries
Museum, Zoo, State Park, & Experience Tickets
Did you know that you can possibly score passes to museums, zoos, national parks, and more for free or discounted rates simply by using your library membership? At my library, you can check out a DVD about our local Zoo, and when you return it you’ll get a voucher redeemable for free zoo tickets for a family of four.
At libraries in Georgia, you can check out the State Parks Backpack, where members will score a hanging tag that allows free parking at all of Georgia’s state parks and historic sites as well as the Historic Site Family Pass that allows four (4) free admissions into any of Georgia’s historic sites. This program is available at most libraries throughout the country! What a great way to experience all that your city/state has to offer culturally without spending your hard-earned money.
Need something new for family movie night? Don’t waste your money buying or renting DVDs, head to the library and borrow one for free. My library has a nice selection, however, the titles are a little dated, so it’s a good time to check out an oldie but goodie you may have missed.
Need to fix something around the house or have a DIY project that you need a power tool? Some libraries are now loaning tools! What a great way to keep the cost down for your project by avoiding having to pay for expensive tools.
I’m not a fan of buying puzzles because they can sometimes be pricey and I never want to work on one again once I’ve finished it. Many libraries have puzzles available to check out, or you can work on a shared Puzzle In Progress at the library. The puzzle is on a table and you can stop by and work on it, then when you’re done someone can start working on it where you left off.
Want to give gardening a shot? Select libraries have packages of seeds that you can score FREE with your library card! Grab some and teach your kiddos about plants and vegetables.
I was surprised to find out that my library loans Sewing Machines! They’re completely free to check out when you use your library card. I checked around and it seems like quite a few libraries offer this service. This is a great way to give sewing a try before spending a lot of money on one of your own.
Image Credit: Pontiac Public Library
Borrow fishing poles, soccer kits, footballs, baseballs, and more! Your public library may just have what you need to enjoy a fun afternoon of outdoor play with the kiddos.
Image Credit: Kenton Library
Sensory, STEM & STEAM Learning Kits
Your kiddos will love being hands-on with STEM & STEAM Learning Kits, and you’ll love the price – FREE! This is a great way for them to learn about coding, science, technology, mathematics, and more.
Study & Meeting Rooms
Work from home and need a change of scenery? Head to the library and you can use one of their study rooms for a quiet environment to finish that big work project without the distractions/noise at home. I work from the library at least 2-3 times a week and it’s nice to get out of the house, plus I feel like I get more work done there. It’s also a great place for your club or non-profit group to hold their next meeting.
Image Credit: Harvard Countway Library
Students at Harvard and Emory University can borrow therapy dogs for 30 minutes of cuddling and playtime. Many university libraries especially do this during final exam season. Studies show that students felt more relaxed after taking a break from their studies to play with one of these pups. I sure wish my library offered this service! 🐶
Need to connect to the internet from your smartphone or laptop? Head to the library and use their free Wi-Fi! Libraries typically will have the password hung up on the wall or available at the main desk.
Image Credit: Brian Mead for American Libraries Magazine
More awesome items you may be able to borrow from your local library…
- Art Kits
- Assistive Tool Kits
- Craft Kits
- Musical Instruments
- Tax Help/Forms
- Roomba Vacuums
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